One in three Brits would not get into a driverless vehicle


SPA Future Thinking, the business intelligence research consultancy, has today revealed further findings of Automotive Trends 2015, an independent study of the UK automotive sector.

  • Scepticism centres around the reliability of technology, safety issues and lack of control
  • However, a quarter of motorists would consider purchasing a driverless car in the future
  • SPA Future Thinking’s Automotive Trends 2015 report of  1,200 consumers reveals drivers’ sentiments towards driverless cars

With the UK Government recently announcing it will provide £19 million of funding in order to fast-track driverless and self-driving car projects, SPA Future Thinking’s business intelligence reveals motorists’ sentiments towards the avant-garde technology.

The majority of British motorists (60%) have heard about driverless or self-driving cars and, of these, a quarter (24%) said they would consider purchasing the technology in the future. However, almost half of all respondents (48%) said they will not consider purchasing a driverless vehicle in the future, with a third (33%) saying they will not even be a passenger in such a vehicle.

The study of over 1,200 drivers highlighted that the general public is, on the whole, sceptical about the technology, with a tendency to trust humans over computers. For instance, 80% of motorists believe driverless cars should include controls such as a steering wheel to allow passengers to take control if necessary. By contrast, just 6% do not see the need for this. Furthermore, only 17% of respondents believe that driverless cars will remove the need for Driving Tests in the future, which suggests that the UK’s drivers are reluctant to fully embrace the technology.

Richard Barton, Group Managing Director of SPA Future Thinking, commented:

“One of the key issues highlighted in the research is that 80% of consumers would prefer to have driving controls in a driverless car to take control if necessary. This raises a complex issue of liability in accidents that legislator insurers and the high way code will need to clearly address before anyone can be their own backseat driver.”

Motorists believe that the main benefits of driverless technology are increased safety on the roads (18%), fewer accidents (8%) and the ability to do other activities, such as reading or working, whilst travelling (6%). However, respondents cited a number of negative implications, including technological malfunctions and the threat of hacking or viruses (18%), danger to the public (15%), lack of control (11%) and unproven technology (8%).

Barton continued:

“The UK has a strong heritage of being at the forefront of transport development, and it is very encouraging to see the Government’s progressive attitude to technological innovation in the industry with tremendous potential for reducing accidents and making traffic flow more smoothly.”